As an eager BA (Hons) International Football Business student, Goncalo Silver was at first unsure about securing a work placement alongside his studies. But after landing a commercial internship at National League side Maidenhead United, the UCFB Wembley student has immersed himself in social media accounts, consultation classes with fans and countless Zoom calls. Here, he tells us more about the role and his time at UCFB so far…

Tell us how the opportunity at Maidenhead United came about and what you had to do to get the job?

Last summer I was talking with a couple of UCFB graduates I met on LinkedIn and asked one of them how he managed to get his first work experience at a football club with no previous experience. He answered that he cold emailed multiple clubs in the surrounding areas to offer his help in the department that he was interested in and attached a CV; he also gave me additional advice for the interview stage, which was to offer something new to the club. Following that conversation, I began to make a list of all the clubs in my local and surrounding areas, including Maidenhead United. They offered me an interview in person with the Partnerships Manager at the ground, during which we talked about ways in which to improve the club operations commercially in the future, and I offered a couple of ideas. A couple of days later I was asked if I was interested in a work placement at the club for a year as a commercial intern and I gladly accepted.

What does the placement involve and what have been some of the highlights?

During my time at Maidenhead I have been involved in multiple roles at the club. Firstly, with research by looking at new ways to add more value to the club commercially by either growing our presence online through the absence of match day attendances, or by finding new creative ways the club can partner with local and national businesses. I have also been involved with other areas of the club such as Linkedin, which I’ve used to promote commercial opportunities and current partners at the club. This has led to over 60% growth in the number of followers on the social media account.

Secondly, I was involved in a consultation session with the fans over Zoom to get feedback on areas the club has handled well and how they can improve on and off the pitch, because as a community club the fans play a vital role in the club and without them it wouldn’t exist. Currently, I am involved with promoting the club’s 150th anniversary match against Stockport County in February.

What have you taken into your role from what you've learnt in your degree?

My degree has provided me with the knowledge of the operations of football business and so has allowed me to bring in new ideas to help the club improve its business operation. Maidenhead are always open to new ideas to make the club more professional; it’s currently operating as a semi-professional club which is impressive for a club in the National League. However, I think it's more important to me what the club has done for me as they have provided me with real life experience of how a football club operates and I continue to learn new things every day.

How are you managing to work the role alongside your studies?

I was unsure at first but so far it has been good, as due to the multiple lockdown restrictions I have been experiencing the life of someone who is working from home with multiple Zoom meetings a week. This includes the whole department once a week followed by a meeting with the commercial team. It was challenging at first, but the club were able to adapt my working week to my studies and as my studies have been and currently are online, it has become much easier to perform well in my club role alongside UCFB.

How have you found your time at UCFB so far?

Despite the pandemic I have still enjoyed my time at UCFB, as I am studying a degree that I’m extremely interested in. I like how my degree is broad and there are a whole range of [business] models that I’m learning about. This year the modules I have studied so far are Stadium Management and International Football Business Analysis, which have broadened my knowledge commercially and will allow me to bring new ideas to Maidenhead. The best bits have mostly come from the immense amount of opportunities available at UCFB, with the whole range of guest speakers, workshops and a range of extra-curricular activities that are available. I am looking forward to the near future at UCFB and seeing what further opportunities are available.

What advice can you offer to any prospective students looking to study at UCFB?

Firstly, make the most of your time here at UCFB as you will have a whole range of activities available – the guest speakers, workshops and many more. You don’t have to do everything but go and do something that will differentiate yourself from everyone else. Secondly, make sure that you get some experience under your belt during your time at UCFB as this will help you by the time you graduate and will lead to additional opportunities. Don't forget to network with people within the industry, from your guest speakers to fellow UCFB students and alumni, as they will be more than happy to help you and can give you advice.